The Florida trail attack suspect seen approaching a female jogger past dusk on chilling surveillance video was apprehended on Wednesday, reportedly in part thanks to a hat left behind at the scene.
William Paul Stamper, 19, of Longwood, was arrested in connection to the Sept. 19 attack on a female jogger in the unincorporated area of Seminole County called Wekiva Springs.
At around 8:40 p.m., the victim was jogging in the area of West Wekiva Trail and Harrogate Place — within the Wekiva subdivision — when an unknown man approached her from behind and took her to the ground, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. A witness nearby heard the struggle and asked if someone needed help. The jogger called out for the witness to call 911.
The victim — a 22-year-old woman — was able to fight off the attacker, who ran toward Hunt Club Boulevard according to the sheriff’s office. He allegedly tackled her and bit her before running.
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The suspect was described as being around 6 feet tall, possibly with a beard, and was last seen possibly wearing a dark-colored short-sleeved athletic shirt.
Investigators previously released surveillance footage showing the suspect walking down the sidewalk along a fence as the neighborhood was illuminated by streetlamps after dusk. Another snippet of video shows the victim, donning athletic gear, walking down a tree-lined trail as the suspect approached from behind.
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma revealed that a hat left behind by the attacker helped investigators make an arrest. It had the logo for Sonny’s BBQ, where Stamper was employed, WKMG-TV reported.
“They were very cooperative with giving direction on some of the employees that look like they potentially could have matched the description of the video evidence that we had released at the time,” Lemma said. “We were able to follow up on that, make contact with citizens, and ultimately, right around 10 or 11 last night, we brought the person in as a person of interest.”
Investigators interviewed Stamper for several hours until the 19-year-old ultimately confessed, Lemma said. The sheriff also said his detectives had already established “concrete evidence that says that this is the person that is responsible for this very alarming crime.”
Stamper was booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford on charges of attempted sexual battery.
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